Losing weight won’t make you happy. I know it seems hard to believe when you’re staring into the mirror at your tummy spilling over the top of too tight jeans, but I’ve got news for you; weight loss doesn’t promise happiness.
Sure, right now maybe it may seem like it does. Like if only you were 10 pounds lighter everything would be great. You would be happy.
I know only too well how easy it is to fall into this trap. You truly believe that being thin/having bigger boobs/a smaller nose etc is the secret to being happy.
But it isn’t.
Excuse me while I go all ‘peace and love’ on you, but happiness is not external. It doesn’t depend on achieving a particular goal, buying a particular thing, getting a particular job or even, yes, fitting into some size 8 jeans.
Happiness comes from within. I know that sounds like a cheesy inspirational quote, but it just so happens to be true. Even science says so.
The ‘hedonic treadmill’ effect shows how humans adapt to their new circumstances, good or bad, pretty quickly and return to their previous state of happiness. Sure getting a promotion, or losing 10 pounds, or buying a new iPhone may bring you an initial rush of happiness, but that feeling soon fades leaving you seeking out the next thing. This study showed that even the happiness brought on by winning the lottery does not last.
The fact is, people with the body you want are walking around right now hating it. This may seem hard to believe, but I promise you it’s true.
I have lost track of the number of times friends with the sort of figure you see in ‘after’ photos have tearfully confessed their utter lack of body confidence to me. Being slim or beautiful is not an automatic ticket to body confidence and contentment.
In fact, the opposite may even be true. This study showed that far from being a silver bullet for all our woes, participants who lost weight were actually more likely to report low mood.
So chances are, if you’re not happy now, you won’t be happy when you get the body you want either.
I’m not saying you need to give up eating healthily, or exercising. But do those things because they make you feel good. There are plenty of good reasons to workout, but wanting to be happy because you think the final result will be weight loss probably isn’t one of them.
So yes, please do continue to exercise (there are plenty of reasons to exercise that have nothing to do with weight loss). And by all means, take care over what you eat. But do it because you love yourself and your body and you want to look after it and nourish it. Not because you are punishing it for not being what you want it to be.
And I know what you’re thinking; ‘that is all well and good in theory, but putting that into practice is hard’. And yes, it is hard. It’s hard to love yourself when you live in a world where you are constantly bombarded with the message that unless your body is a particular size or shape there is something wrong with you. You are not good enough.
It’s hard, but it’s not impossible.
Check out this post for ways to start appreciated and even loving the body you have right now.
Ok maybe I’ve convinced you, and you are starting to believe that getting the body you want is not actually the path to happiness. So what is? Instead of focusing on the things you want to change, and the things you want to get rid of, focus on the journey, not the destination. Focus on building a life that makes you smile, not on building a body that you think will solve all your problems.
The irony is, if you work on being happy, truly happy, you may find the rest takes care of itself anyway.